First Public Hearings Held over Knox Parks 5-Year Master Plan

Despite a fairly small turn out, last night’s public hearing resulted in several notable suggestions for the Knox Parks 5-Year Master Plan. Knox currently has three parks, Wythogan Park, Sandy Acres and Heritage Park and last night it was revealed that a fourth park is being proposed across from Wythogan on U.S. 35.

The public hearing was led by Landscape Architect Mike Reese from the Troyer Group. He explained that the Troyer Group is the firm facilitating the planning process. He said they also helped install the performance stage in Wythogan Park and assisted Starke County with their 5-year master plan.

Widening the entrance at Wythogan and adding another way to enter and exit was suggested as well as expanding the trail system, installing more lighting and potentially implementing a dog park.

A good deal of time was spent discussing bathroom, concessions, and parking lot upgrades. ADA compliance was considered when those possibilities were addressed. General maintenance was another major concern as well as publicizing the other parks more in order to draw additional patronage.

Representatives of the Starke County youth baseball and softball leagues came to advocate for field maintenance and upgrades. Various memebers of the park board were present to provide their input on what kind of things that haven’t been successful in the past.

Additionally, Reese mentioned that at the start of the week there were approximately a dozen responses to the Parks Survey. After it was shared on social media, they now have around 180 of them completed. Mayor Estok suggested that it is possible people completed the survey online and then didn’t attend the hearing in person since they already provided their perspective on that platform.

Reese said the Knox Parks Survey will be open until Thursday, December 14th and community members are encouraged to continue taking the survey and passing it around so the Troyer Group can collect as many public opinions as possible.

Mayor Dennis Estok added that there were quite a few people present during stake-holder meetings earlier in the day and a good amount of input was provided at those sessions with special interest groups.

Another public hearing will be held in January, after survey results are analyzed and a draft master plan has been drawn up. The draft is due to the DNR by January 15th and the final version of the plan needs turned in by April 15th. Adhering to all the set deadlines will result in Knox becoming eligible for grant funding to cover the cost of proposed park upgrades.